Tag Archives: murder thriller

Only Lies Remain (An Aoife Walsh Thriller Book 2) by Val Collins Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The discovery of a body leads to old family secrets being unearthed, and a hunt for a killer who could very well be amongst Aoife Walsh’s family takes center stage in author Val Collins’s “Only Lies Remain”, the second book in the Aoife Walsh thriller series. 


The Synopsis

Everyone thought Danny Walsh deserted his family when his sons were young. But when Danny’s body turns up fifteen years later and his wife, Maura, is implicated in his murder, accusations and old rumours surface.

Aoife rushes in to clear her mother-in-law’s name. But why is it that Maura’s story surrounding Danny’s disappearance doesn’t quite add up?

Aoife’s investigation uncovers old secrets, long-held jealousies, and lies upon lies. With every new revelation, Aoife realises she doesn’t know her family at all. Now her new boss is acting strangely, her best friend is more and more distant and her husband is no help at all.

With her support network crumbling and her family threatened, Aoife must race to keep one step ahead of danger before more innocent lives are lost. But how will she uncover the truth when only lies remain?

The Review

This was a captivating and thought-provoking thriller. As a newcomer to the series, I was immediately enthralled with the expansive cast of characters. Protagonist Aoife is such a brilliant presence in the narrative, providing both the determination and strength a thriller’s heroine is meant to have and yet infusing the vulnerability and emotional components that make her character feel well-rounded. The balance of everyday developments in her life, from her tumultuous relationship with her soon-to-be ex-husband and her desire to help her former mother-in-law, to her growing relationship with the lead investigator and the close friendship she has with Orla.

Yet it was the twisted narrative and haunting atmosphere the author built into this story that made the novel so captivating. The rich world-building and stark settings were brought to life brilliantly using powerful imagery and made it feel very cinematic in nature as if it could be turned into the newest BBC murder mystery and thriller series that takes the world by storm much like The Fall or Broadchurch. The chilling nature of the case and the personal connection the protagonist has to it allow the reader to feel the desperation and need to solve the case that drives this story forward.

The Verdict

Brilliantly written, complex yet inviting, and thoroughly entertaining, author Val Collins’s “Only Lies Remains” is a must-read murder mystery thriller. The twists and turns the narrative takes, as well as the shocking reveal of the killer and his or her motives, will have readers hanging off the edge of their seats, and the author’s skills and powerful command over the genre make her future in this industry something that cannot be ignored.  If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Val Collins is the author of the award-winning psychological thriller GIRL TARGETED and the No. 1 international bestsellers ONLY LIES REMAIN, THE SILENT SPEAK and WHERE LOYALTIES LIE. All four books are stand-alone thrillers and they can be read in any order.

Val has lived in Ireland her entire life, and graduated from University College Dublin. She enjoys chocolate, going for long walks in the countryside, seeing as much of the world as possible, meeting friends, writing, and reading. In fact, she devours books at the rate of one per week, and her favourite authors range from Philippa Gregory and Sophie Kinsella to Lee Child and Linwood Barclay.


Interview with Author Gary Westphalen

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I have been a journalist all of my life, so writing is just part of my DNA. I have been a news journalist for radio, TV, newspapers, and even my own regional magazine that I wrote and published for 4 years before selling it. I have also been a documentary film maker, garnering numerous prestigious awards for my work. I worked for one of the national television news organizations for years as a White House journalist, covering every President from Ronald Reagan to the first year of Donald Trump. All of that kept me so busy that I never had time to write for pleasure. But, now that I am semi-retired from that career, the books that I have pushed into a dark, dusty comer of my mind are starting to spill out.


What inspired you to write your book?

Murdered For Nothing was inspired by a real-life crime that I covered as a young journalist in Rochester, New York back in the late 1980’s. Over a 48 hour time span, two men killed five people in robberies that netted them less than a hundred dollars in cash and stolen items. It’s one of many chilling stories I covered over the years, and I’m finding that writing these stories is a sort of cathartic exercise for me. By putting these memories into written words, I am dealing with a head full of wild experiences I have had as a journalist.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I think the message to be drawn from this story is that not only does crime not pay, but it leaves behind a trail of broken hopes and dreams for every one who is touched by the crime. Another theme in Murdered For Nothing is that everyone has a dark side that taints their actions. This might be a bit of a spoiler alert, but there are no “White Hat” characters in the book. Even the characters with the best of intentions are motivated by personal agendas. That doesn’t mean they don’t do the right thing in the end, but they don’t do it without thinking about themselves, too.

What drew you into this particular genre?

My personal experience as a journalist. I think it gives me a unique perspective on crime stories that most writers don’t have. It’s one thing to sit in front of your computer and create imaginary crimes. It’s quite another to write a story based on the personal experience of having been a front-line observer to a real crime. Although the characters in my book are works of fiction, they represent the real emotions and actions that played out in this story. This fictional account is very personal to me.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

This is a challenging question, because I have so many questions for every one of them. I think the most intriguing character is defense attorney Maxine Levine. Aggressive, driven, smart and sultry beyond reason, she’s the person everyone wants to be (or be with). Nicole Martin, the sister of one of the victims, displays a calm and insightful grasp on humanity that is beyond admirable. Homicide detective Dave Walters’ story leaves so many loose ends that the book raises more questions about him than it answers. Then, of course, there’s the television journalist caught up in the story from start to finish. Since the character is very loosely based on me (I wish I was as cool as he is), I have already been asking him questions for decades, never getting any clear answers. But in the end, I would want to (and actually did!) sit down with the two criminals to try to understand why they were willing to trade the lives of five people they knew for so little.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Well, Facebook is still the elephant in the room. I am also partial to Linked In because I find it draws the kind of people who read books. It may be a smaller audience, but they are more likely to respond. It’s not exactly a social media site, but Goodreads is also a good place for writers and readers to get connected. I have an authors page on Goodreads, and anyone can ask me questions there. I don’t Tweet. I used to, but the excessive vitriol on that site drove me away.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

A writer writes. Sit down in front of the computer and write something. Every day. It doesn’t matter if, at the end of the session, you press the delete button and walk away. With every sentence you form, you improve your writing skills. Someday, that novel will pour forth from your head, and you will amaze yourself.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

My future holds many walks on the beach in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, which is where I now call “Home”. When the mid-day sun rises high in the sky, I make the ten-minute walk back to my domicile where it is cool. I sit down in front of the computer and write until the approaching sunset draws me back to the beach. Often, when I return from bidding adieu to the sun, I’ll sit down and write some more. Sometimes, all night.

Yes, there are many books to come. I have already written a book titled “Plan A Never Happens”. It’s the true story of how my wife Carmen and I completely upended our lives to move from the Washington, DC area to Costa Rica right in the middle of a worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. I’m currently working on another crime novel based on one of the most notorious crimes in US history. I actually started writing this one several years ago. Life got in the way of finishing it, but I am returning to it now. And, of course, there will be at least one more book based on some of the charcters in Murdered For Nothing. More will come beyond that, but they are mere thoughts at the moment. I will be writing until they pry my cold, dead fingers from the keyboard.


About the Author

I discovered my life’s mission by the time I was five years old. My parents bought me an instant print camera for my birthday, and the fact that I could freeze a moment in time and keep it forever was enthralling. It sent me on the path of journalism. In the all too numerous decades since then, I have fulfilled that calling as a television news journalist, documentary film maker, magazine publisher, web content writer, and now author.

My work has been seen on every major television network, on the silver screen, and in that little screen you carry in your pocket. I guarantee you have seen some of my work. I have won uncounted awards, including an EMMY, a Peabody, a Jules Verne International Scientific Documentary Award, and on and on. I also had the pleasure to produce two documentaries for NASA, one for the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo moon landings, and another one celebrating the 50th anniversary of the formation of NASA.

After all of those experiences…from crashing in a helicopter, being shot at, and threatened with arrest in places where I didn’t speak the language, to telling jokes with every President from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama…I have realized that my brain is full. It is time for me to blend this amazing lifetime of memories with an overactive imagination in order to sweep some of this accumulation out of my mental attic. The result is my bold foray into the world of being an author. I have written millions of words before, but they have always been based in fact. Now, I’m blending fact with fiction in a unique way. I am writing ficticious novels based on real events in such a way that you, my dear reader, will be left wondering which part was fact, and which was fiction. To be honest, sometimes I’m not even sure.

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Wrong Alibi (Murder in Alaska #1) by Christina Dodd Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman framed for a gruesome murder must evade the law and search for the relentless killer who framed her as they continue their merciless attacks in author Christina Dodd’s “Wrong Alibi”, the first in the MURDER IN ALASKA series. 


The Synopsis

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd delivers an all-new thriller, featuring a bold and brash female protagonist.

Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.

Evie’s escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.

At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own fam

The Review

What an incredible thriller! The author has found the perfect balance of heart-pounding pacing in the narrative with in-depth, emotional character development. Evie’s story reveals itself smoothly, creating a tragic backstory that showcases the struggles the character has undergone to become the heroine she is by the book’s main events.

The mystery behind the murders she is framed for is handled perfectly by the author, slowly unraveling the crime and the identity of the actual killer makes for a chilling revelation, especially as it ties into the final moments of the book’s narrative. The action is great and the suspense evokes feelings of chills and anticipation as the narrative goes on.

The Verdict

A thrilling, entertaining, and attention-grabbing thriller, author Christina Dodd’s “Wrong Alibi” is the perfect first story in a new murder mystery/thriller series. A strong protagonist helps to draw out a creative and chilling story, and readers will have a difficult time putting this story down as the author draws them further and further in. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called “scary, sexy, and smartly written” by Booklist and, much to her mother’s delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at www.christinadodd.com.


TWITTER: @ChristinaDodd

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaDoddFans 

Insta: @ChristinaDoddBooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12695.Christina_Dodd





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Fender Head by Robert McEvilla Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A former German soldier and POW fights for survival in the United States, resorting to theft and murder. However after finding love, the POW joins the very military that imprisoned him and becomes a career soldier in author Robert McEvilla’s “Fender Head”.


The Synopsis

Escaping from a Michigan prison camp in 1945, German solider and POW, Lothar Laumer, is on the run. With few resources, murder and robbery become necessities for survival, and after finding romance, he cleverly implements a plan to join the same army he had escaped from and becomes a career non-commissioned officer. His false sense of security is upended when a blast from the past threatens to undo him.

The Review

This was an incredibly engaging thriller. The author delves into the complex world of POWs and those who escaped imprisonment after WWII to lead entirely new lives. The narrative overall was evenly paced and entertaining, drawing the reader in with complex twists and turns that help showcase how the protagonist arrived smack dab in the middle of a military murder investigation. 

What really sunk in though however was the author’s delve into character growth. The complexity of the protagonist, Laumer, was intense and captivating. The character’s deep seated issues after being forced into service for the German military are highlighted in his interactions with Emma, the young woman who changes his life forever. Laumer’s journey from POW to criminal on the run and then posing as another man was thrilling to see unfold. 

The Verdict

This was a masterful, suspenseful and military-action driven war thriller like no other. Author Robert McEvilla brings a level of authenticity and authority to his writing, and captures the clash of cultures in the midst of war perfectly. A tale of survival, readers won’t be able to put this book down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Author, Robert McEvilla, is a retired stationary engineer who lives in the backwoods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In his first novel which is based on his 

experiences with the 82nd Airborne in the Dominican Republic.  His second novel is a detective mystery.

His short stories have been published in the literary magazine, Down State Story.  Other stories have been published in CWW Publications of Carmel, California; Twin Rivers Press of Ellerton, Florida; and Toxic Evolution Press of Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania. The short story, Horseradish, received honorable mention in a 

Glimmer Train short fiction contest and was published in Story Teller Magazine. Also a short memoir of Robert McEvilla appeared in the October issue of The Good Old 

Days Magazine.